Assault is one of a number of intentional torts that are designed to protect an individual’s interest. The protected interest is the person’s freedom from the apprehension of harm. It is the tort of acting intentionally and voluntarily causing the reasonable apprehension of an immediate or offensive contact. Because assault requires that the “bad guy” have intent, it is an intentional tort. This is opposed to a tort of negligence.
While battery requires a person to make harmful or offensive contact, assault does not require that contact be made. Assault only requires intent and apprehension of harmful contact. Wielding a knife can be construed as assault if a fearful situation was created.
In addition, the actual ability to carry out the apprehended contact is not necessary. If a person has a toy gun that looks real, he or she can be charged with assault, even though there is no ability to carry out the intended threat.
Like most legal issues, the law varies by jurisdiction. Contact is frequently defined as being “harmful” if it, objectively, intends to injure, to disfigure, to impair, or to cause pain. An act is determined to be “offensive” if the action would offend a reasonable person’s sense of personal dignity. Imminence is judged objectively and varies widely based on the facts of an individual case. It generally suggests that there is little to no opportunity for intervening acts. “Apprehension” is not the same thing as fear. Apprehension requires only that the victim be aware of the imminence of the harmful or offensive act.
If you have been assaulted, contact the Lake Geneva personal injury lawyers of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ® at 1-800-275-1729 to discuss your case and to determine your legal options.